A Constitution of Social Governance for the European Union

Research output: Book/ReportOther report


his chapter considers the EU’s socio-economic constitution under the lens of humaneness. It argues that the EU’s unique socio-economic constitution demands equilibrium of socio-economic integration instead of widening the gap between economic integration at EU levels and social integration at national levels. While the EU lacks the legislative competences to achieve this equilibrium, the constitutional principle still prevails. Indeed, the EU competences reflect its own values as well as the socio-economic constitutions of its constituent Member States. These frequently do not allow for total state-governance of social spheres such as working life, education, care or other social services. Instead, societal actors are given scope to (co-)govern these spheres at national levels. Accordingly, the apparent tension between the EU’s socio-economic values and principles and its limited competences in the social policy field can be resolved through a dynamic interpretation of the EU Treaties towards a “constitution of social governance”. This interpretation reads the Treaties as authorising governance by societal actors. The chapter connects the idea of humanness to the ideals of social governance at EU level and proposes two options for practical application of the concept. These are rules for trans-national labour markets based on European collective labour agreements and a European higher education sector developed by agreements between universities.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBelfast
PublisherQueen's University Belfast
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameEuropean (Legal) Studies On-Line Papers
PublisherQueen's University Belfast


  • Social Constitution
  • Governance
  • European Union


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